B2B Sales Predictions in 2011: A Follow Up

b2b sales predictionsIn 2010, we shared our top three B2B sales predictions for upcoming year. A lot has changed since then, but we’re curious: How many of these predictions came true?

In today’s post we follow up on those predictions and explore whether they’re still relevant in 2017.

Prediction #1: Sanity Returns to Lead Generation

In 2010, we observed a lack of human touch in the B2B sales process. We wrote, “Not every senior executive wants to be treated like the human equivalent of a pinball, get their attention only when they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points. Too many accounts are being managed by marketing automation solutions and not enough with the human touch.”

In short, we predicted that B2B companies would need to rely less on technology and more on people to generate high quality leads within strategic accounts.

Fast-forward six years, and this still holds true. By now, B2B professionals have realized the buyer is more aware, educated and ultimately, in control than ever before – and these individuals aren’t interested in your generic sales pitch. Automated messages are no longer enough to convert your leads into customers and technology does not guarantee sales success.

Personalized messaging is the new norm in B2B sales and marketing. Your prospects expect that you are well-researched, understand their pain points, and can quickly communicate the value of your solution.

Our suggestion: Schedule face-to-face meetings with your prospects. This isn’t always easy, but trust us – it works! In fact, according to one recent report 85% of sales reps say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person meetings and conferences (source).

Check out the following blog post for some tips and tricks to better facilitate in-person conversations with your prospects and customers: 4 Ways to Improve Communication in B2B Sales

Prediction #2: Sales and Marketing Alignment-Don’t Bet on It

Not unlike today, sales and marketing alignment was a hot topic back in 2010. In our original post, we predicted more discussion surrounding the topic, but little progress toward true alignment.

We wrote, “Lead management and lead development are basic business processes that are broken in most companies. Until the most senior executives really go in there and fix a few basic things, there’s going to continue to be a lack of alignment.”  

As it turns out, our prediction was not far off. In 2017, sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever, yet it’s still something many companies struggle with.

The biggest reason for misalignment is due to differences in goals. If your sales and marketing teams operate under different goals, working together to achieve anything is nearly impossible.

In fact, 40% of respondents in a recent survey reported that the biggest obstacle to alignment was the fact that sales and marketing success was measured using different metrics (source). The fix? Establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA). An SLA is a contract that clearly outlines the responsibilities of each team and allows sales and marketing to hold each other accountable for different tasks. Additionally, it ensures that your teams work together toward one common goal.

For more information about SLAs and sales and marketing alignment, check out these blog posts:

Prediction #3: Sales Calls as Part of a Multi-Touch Process

In 2010 we wrote, “B2b sales reps need to more effectively use the information that’s been provided to them and need to reach out, even to highly qualified prospects, probably many more times than they think. A lot of salespeople feel like if they call two or three times and they don’t hear back, there’s no interest. [But] it could take up to as many 12 calls to move a prospect to the next step.”

Seven years later, this prediction still holds true.  The key to converting decision makers is to remain top of mind throughout the entire sales journey – and that means being persistent. According to one recent report, the average sales rep only makes two attempts to follow-up with a prospect, yet it takes an average of eight follow-up attempts to actually make contact (source).

Often times, it’s not the sales rep but the contact information that fails. Be sure you’re working with a reputable data provider and prioritize database cleanliness. If you don’t have the right phone numbers, you won’t ever reach your prospects.

Key Takeaways

As we revisit old marketing trends and predictions, it’s become clear that the problems we had in 2010 continue to plague us years later. Unfortunately, the reason for this is simple—none of these issues have a quick fix.

Instead of looking for an easy way out, make them a priority and develop a strategy to remedy them. Remember, you don’t want to look back seven years from now and wish you had done something sooner!

For more information about data quality, sales and marketing alignment, or lead generation, contact ZoomInfo today.